Forty-eight hours isn’t nearly enough time to explore all of Bangkok. Thailand’s capital city is chock-full of contrasting pleasures, a vibrant metropolis that still retains much of its distinctive cultural identity. If you only have a couple of days to spare though, curating your itinerary carefully means that you can experience the best of what it has to offer. Below, we help you narrow down your choices and list the attractions we think are essential for a weekend visit:
Ratchada Train Market
One of the reasons why this night market is so popular is its sheer accessibility. While staying at a Ratchada area hotel is a great idea when in Bangkok, you can still access the Ratchada Train Market without having to check in; it’s a short walk from the Cultural Center MRT Underground station.
Also known as Talad Rot Fai Ratchada, the Ratchada Train Night Market is an offshoot of the hugely successful first train night market on Srinagarindra Road. Why are they called train markets when there aren’t any railroads in sight, you ask? These colorful hubs of activity used to occupy an area that was part of the railway system before being relocated—the name has since stuck. Young people come here for the vintage aesthetics that millennials and Gen-Zers have come to love, and stay for beer by the bucket and cheap grilled seafood.
The central area of the market is dedicated to vintage items and antiques for sale, as well as various sundries and souvenirs at bargain prices. No visit to Bangkok is complete without a night market experience, so do as the locals do and head on down—the market opens daily at 5 in the afternoon and doesn’t close until 1 in the morning.
Chao Phraya River
This river flows right through Bangkok and has the esteemed distinction of having been named by King Rama I as the River of Kings. An estimated 50,000 people traverse its waters daily to get around the city—tourists mainly come for a placid river or dinner cruise for a different perspective on oft-visited sites and architectural landmarks. The banks of the river are lined with much to see: Rattanakosin Island is home to some of Bangkok’s most well-known attractions such as the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Asiatique the Riverfront is a shopping and entertainment complex that takes advantage of the cool breeze coming up from the water to offer a wide variety of al fresco dining and shopping options. Getting around is as easy as walking up to a passenger pier and hopping on an express boat or river taxi.
Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
They say that you haven’t been to Bangkok unless you’ve seen the Grand Palace, and droves of tourists seem to agree, given how busy it is on any given day. The palace complex occupies an astounding 2.35 million square feet and is an opulent vision of Thai style architecture. It was built not only as a residence but also to house a number of administrative offices and temples, as well as throne and royal halls. There’s no shortage of sights to marvel at, but most head to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew to admire the statue enshrined there: the Emerald Buddha is the most important Buddha image in the country and was carved from a single block of jasper. Dressed in real gold and jewelry, its costume changes thrice a year at the beginning of each season: summer, rainy season, and winter.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
This popular floating market is located on the straightest and longest canal in the country and is a hit with visitors looking for a taste of the old world. Traditional Thai food and fresh exotic tropical fruits and vegetables are hawked out of boats and served as you drift by, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “eat and run”. You can enjoy a lazy cruise along the canal having a bite of whatever strikes your fancy and come up on the other end with a full stomach and a unique cultural experience under your belt. Try boat noodles or kuaitiao ruea, served in small bowls in an intensely flavored broth topped with pork or beef and a variety of herbs and spices. There’s also the novelty of being handed a bag of piping hot spring rolls or dumplings fresh out of the fryer from a long pole as you float past.
While a weekend may seem like a short time to spend in Bangkok, it can be an eventful one if you know where to go. By carefully choosing the attractions you want to see, you’ll have an easy time making the most out of your forty-eight hours in this colorful city.
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